Go Right to the Top

I am a discerning consumer. I like to get things my way and when I don’t, I usually educate the people in charge why it would be better if they satisfied me as a customer. I don’t raise my voice, or speak down to anyone. It’s all about making friends.

Today Lynn, Elizabeth and I went to the WaDu for lunch. We having been going there for lunch for at least 25 years. It is dependable and predictable and almost always good. There were very few patrons today so we had extra good attention from our excellent waiter, Daniel. After he discussed the special with us, and a side bar about the best soup he ever ate, that happened to be a watermelon gazpacho toped with lobster at the Saint James (I made a mental note to make that this summer in Maine), we asked for biscuits.

The biscuits have been the star of the bread basket at the WaDu for as long as any of us could remember. Daniel gave us the bad news that they are no longer making the biscuits and have a bar bread he said was better. I hate to say that he was wrong about it being better, but he was. He told us about the loss of the pastry chef back at the beginning of Covid so we commiserated with him about that, but he said a new one was coming and pointed out the Food and Beverage manager who was walking towards us.

Never one to be shy I flagged him down. A tall bald man who was happy to spend some time talking with us. We registered our sadness about the loss of the biscuits. He kindly took note. As we were making progress with him talking about the return of Sunday Brunch and afternoon tea later this month I decided to bring up a long held complaint of mine.

“While we have you, I have one more issue, the graduation week menu.” See the WaDu greatly reduces the offerings the week of Duke’s graduation due to the crowds. “My birthday happens to fall during that week and when my friends and I come to celebrate it I can’t get the chopped salad, which is all I ever want for my birthday.”

Now I am used to being mansplained too, but this wonderful gentleman did not do that. Instead he asked me what the exact date of my birthday was. He promised me that he personally would give me a chopped salad on my birthday and gave me his card. Now, there was a very good chance that I was already planning on being there on my birthday. He did not need to sell the table to me. And being graduation week they will be busy anyway. So this kind offer to provide me with my favorite lunch on a day that historically it has been denied to me is a joyous sound.

It really pays to speak to the right person in a kind way. It is even better to have that person go above and beyond to satisfy a customer. So friends who usually come to lunch with me that day, block lunch out that day. We will be at the WaDu, not that it is a new plan.

I Support Ukraine

For most of my young life Russia was a common enemy for many Americans. I was taught that democracies were a better system than communism and that Russia and the other communist countries in the world did not want more democratic countries. Although I was still an infant during the Cuban missed crisis, I knew the story my mother told me of her saying goodbye to my father thinking it could be the last time she spoke with him. Thankfully that was not the case.

When the Soviet Union broke up and the Berlin Wall fell things began to change. Without the giant Soviet block looming as a threat to America we lost our common enemy. I feel like that was the beginning of when Americans began to turn on each other. Yes, we have always had Republicans and Democrats, who did not agree about certain policies, but one thing we used to agree on was the need to protect America and the constitution.

When Putin first invaded Ukrainian I naively thought this is a no brainer that it is something that would bring all Americans together. How could we not feel universal condemnation for a dictator who, unprovoked, invades his peaceful neighbor.

I was shocked, not shocked when Trump praised Putin, as if this is a game played by kids in the sandlot. Then this weekend I read news about a far far right political conference where the attendees were chanting, “Putin, Putin.” The idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend has over taken any logic.

Putin is no friend to America and our way of life, no matter what way of life you live here. Putin succeeding does not change the things these far right people hate about America.

I have no idea how we ever get back to working for the common good of America, let alone the world. I hope that these American Putin supporters are a tiny faction.

As for Ukraine, I pray they can withstand this horrific invasion and push Putin out. I hope that Russia pays a heavy price for allowing Putin to become this kind of dictator. We don’t need other countries to feel like this is a successful way to treat their neighbors. I support Ukraine and hope we can come together for them.

Moving On

All three Langes had things happen that show us moving up or on. The most exciting was that Carter received her diploma in the mail at her apartment in Boston. She technically graduated in December, but will not walk until the May ceremonies. Apparently all students are mailed their diplomas since it would be virtually impossible to give students the right one at graduation.

The second thing that happened is that Shay made her triumphant return to work as the CMG puppy. Russ and I went into his new office space today to unpack his office. Shay found her favorite toy rat and flying monkey and had to hold back from removing them from the shelves they were placed on. Certainly they are going to have to be relocated as Shay can’t be counted on to have any will power near then, especially the flying monkey, whose hands Shay removed in an earlier encounter.

The completion of the build out of the new office might mean Russ goes back to work there, but I know he will still spend plenty of time in his little rabbit office at home. The real question will be, “Where will Shay be working?”

The third thing that happened today is I returned to Charity Auctioneering after a two year pandemic auction free time. The last auction I worked was this same one, the Big Wesley Barbecue and Auction. Two years ago, just as Covid was starting to come into focus in the US I worked this auction. Now, two years later they were back. The format was slightly different and people have forgotten some of their auction bidding skills, but they are such a lovely group of people I love helping them.

Perhaps a corner has been turned here.

Hooray for Shelayne!

Amy Daubert, Shelayne and me

My best looking, youngest grandmother-of-six, friend, Shelayne finally turned sixty, despite looking more like 30. As a true and dear friend to so many it was only appropriate that a wonderful party was thrown in her honor. Thankfully Covid has calmed down enough that we were able to gather to celebrate her in style.

As I wrote in a note to Shelayne, the best thing we got out of serving on the Durham Academy board together was each other. I had never met Shelayne before that. Her five children were way older than my one so we did not cross paths at school. She lives in Chapel Hill and plays tennis so no over lap there. But once we did meet we found lots of common interests and friends.

I am so thankful that Shelayne always took an interest in my work at the Food Bank and eventually was asked to join the board after serving on a Food Bank Committee. As a former board member, I feel better about the place knowing that she is there. Now she has started a new private high school in Durham, Christo Rey and is doing good for a whole new group of people.

Thanks to the wonderful hostesses who threw a great party. It was great to see so many friends I have not seen in so long. it was a lovely night to be together.

Hooray for Shelayne and all the good she does for the people she loves and people who will never even know who she is. She is truly one of the most beautiful people that I know, on the inside and out.

“If I just Live Long Enough”

I dream big and I don’t give up. In my lifetime I have had the pleasure to work on many non-profit projects and boards. In doing those things I have often had big dreams, which some people thought were just that. My response when met with skepticism is not to give up, but I say, “I am certain I will see these things happen, If I just live long enough.” Today was the perfect example of that.

I had the pleasure to go to the ground breaking of the Food Bank’s new Wilmington Branch as a member of the Capital Campaign’s Executive Team. This was a dream I first dreamt about 12 years ago, the first time I went to visit the Food Bank branch in Wilmington. The building, which was old when it became a Food Bank, in the 1980’s, was probably barley adequate then. When I saw it with it’s hand painted sign, and no clear front entrance I said, “We need to do better.”

Me with Branch Director, Beth Gaglione, in front of the current Building, April, 2016

In April of 2016, as part of my role as board chair I visited the Branch again and promised the branch Director Beth Gaglione, that one day she would have the space she needed. The coolers in the old building were more like those ice dispensers in parking lots in the 1960’s. There is no space for volunteers to sort food, except between pallets of other food. Don’t get me started about the parking lot and where trucks had to load and unload food.

Beth, today at the ground breaking

So today’s event, of breaking ground to build a new 45,000 Square foot, purpose built building, with a teaching kitchen as well as plenty of space for volunteers and real walk in coolers and freezers, and out door space for vegetable gardens ( also my long term dream for all the branches) has been a long time coming.

The Food Bank, Kristin McPeters the staff person and especially the Wilmington Committee did an outstanding job raising a record amount of money, during a pandemic. This will be the largest building project outside of the triangle the Food Bank has undertaken and is so much more than my original dream. Thanks to all the dedicated and compassionate people, especially Peter Werbicki, the President. Peter is retiring this year after 25 years at the Food Bank. I have worked with him for 22 and enjoyed every minute. Making this dream a reality is the last jewel in his huge crown of many accomplishments, but he would never wear a crown, despite being British.

Peter Werbicki, President, CEO of the Food Bank

I can’t wait for the ribbon cutting on the new facility once it is built and getting a new updated photo with Beth the branch director in front of a real front door with a professional sign above it.

Russ’ New Office

My day-off turned into a half day-off. Russ’ office at American Tobacco got moved thanks to GSK wanting a big ass amount of space. Turns out Russ’ office was right in the middle of the space they wanted so the landlords asked Russ if he could move to a new space. We spent a lot of time looking at options and finally agreed on one which they then had to up-fit. Six months later the up-fit is finally done. It is a nice space in the FHI building and Russ overlooks the grassy park area outside DPAC.

Russ is yet to go to the new office as it is not unpacked and ready to go, but I was needed today to help do art placement and furniture. It is amazing how much stuff a business accumulates over the years. Turns out they have way too many file cabinets, which are totally unnecessary now that everything is virtual.

It is going to take a little while for the office manager to get everything done, but it is not all up to her. Russ and I need to go in and unpack his office this weekend. I moved some very heavy boxes around In there today. Who knows what kind of stuff he has squirreled away.

The Smell of Spring

I don’t always know what the date is, but given that today is the very famous 2/22/22 I was alerted to the actual date by the news. February usually means winter. Sometimes March still means winter too. As I got out of my car tonight at 9:30 after teaching, I took a deep breath and got a chest full of spring.

I am not sure what happened today. Yes, it was a warm day, but something must have bloomed. I didn’t recognize it was an actual scent. The night air was heavy with humidity, a little like that feeling after an early evening rain in the summer. Nothing in my yard was any greener, although the daffodils are up. The Lady banks rose is still in deep slumber, the grass is still dormant.

Despite no visual evidence, the aroma of the changing seasons was evident. Now the change is not always a straight line. We could still back right up into the sterile smell of winter, but for a moment as I lingered in the gravel driveway I was a little hopeful. A new beginning is near. Good thing I mapped out my crop rotation for the garden yesterday. Perhaps my body knew the change was coming before my nose caught on.

Despite the hint, I won’t be planting yet, but I can dream. There is nothing better than sleeping amongst sweet smelling things and spring is my favorite thing.

Where Is My Pandemic Productiveness?

In a few weeks we will officially have our pandemic 2 year anniversary. Granted we are through with the quarantined period, but we are not back to normal yet. As I look back on my photos in those early 2020 days I recognize how productive I was in the early days. Everyday I worked on quilts and needlepoints. I cleaned out things that had been wanting for years. Dust rarely settled for more than 36 hours. I ran two different vacuums at the same time, thanks to one being a robot. I studied, planed and built my enclosed vegetable garden, including the sixty foot retaining wall by hand.

Where has that person gone? Since I have been teaching Mah Jongg at my current pace I find that I am failing at other duties. Russ has taken to doing laundry just so he has some clean underpants. My office still has Christmas wrapping in a huge pile along with shopping bags full of gifts yet to be given.

It’s not that I am teaching eight hours a day. Today I taught just one class, but yet got nothing done, except paying some bills. I miss my old Pandemic self. I miss making a big list of projects and diligently checking them off. I don’t even have a list right now. I’m too lazy to make one.

The only good thing about my post pandemic slump is that I rarely go to the grocery store so Russ and I are eating through the freezer and the pantry. It’s amazing how good that chicken filo pie is months later. In my laziness I have hardly cooked a soup all winter, normally a staple in our house.

Now I’m not looking to go back into lock down, but it’s not like I have the excuse that my social calendar is keeping me so busy. I just want to be productive enough that I don’t feel guilty if I play a game of Catan on my iPad.

We Should Have Stayed Home

Russ and I got our final shingles shots yesterday. Our wonderful pharmacist, Darius, warned us that we might not feel well afterwards. Yesterday we were fine, with the exception of a sore arm for me. This morning was not the same story. Both Russ and I had flu like symptoms so we laid low today.

We had a reservation for dinner tonight. We realized we had not been out to dinner since September. All day Russ kept asking me if we should cancel. “Let’s see how we feel.” So we went. We probably should have stayed home and not because we didn’t feel well.

We had a very nice, but incompetent waitress. She took forever to come and take our order, despite having time to just meander around the back of the bar. She took our order and when she brought Russ his drink, it was in a can, that was opened and Russ immediately spilled it. Not her fault, but we alerted her that we needed the table cleaned up and a good ten minutes later she dropped some napkins off for us to clean it up.

When our food came, she left us the plates, but no silverware. I asked for some and again she did the wandering around routine. It was at least three minutes (in a very tiny place) and we watched her the whole time, not getting us silver. I finally flagged down the other server who gave us forks in ten seconds.

After we finished she dropped off the bill. The restaurant had one of those QR codes so we could pay online ourselves , which we did. We were still sitting there talking ten minutes later and she came over and said, “Did I forget to pickup your check?” At that point it didn’t matter to us since we had done it ourselves, but it was just another example of her attention to detail.

The food was not great, the service was terrible and the ambiance was not existent. I know we don’t feel great, but this made me feel worse. No wonder we only eat at home.

Landscape Designers?

I have to apologize for the losses in the stock market in 2022. It is all my fault. I got very comfortable about the gains of the last year so I gave Russ a Christmas present of doing a major renovation to our house. The money was going to come from our stocks. That was a sure fire way to ensure that all the money I was willing to spend would disappear.

My original gift was a room. Then it became a room and a screened in porch. Then it changed to a new garage with a room above it and the conversion of our current garage into a room. Then the new garage turned into a three car garage with a whole apartment above it. Now that is a house. I called contractors and pulled out plans that we had. I scoured Pintrest. I got bids. It was too much. We didn’t need any of that.

We scaled back our thinking. Now it involves cleaning out our current garage. That is free. Now want to do some landscaping with the addition of an outdoor kitchen, so some hard scraping. So I am starting at the beginning again. Looking for contractors, landscape designers, more Pintrest for inspiration. This might end up being 2023’s Christmas gift.

Right now I am interested in any recommendations for local landscaper designers because I want to start there. Who have you used? Who should we stay away from? Please message me before the stock market goes down even further and I will be left with just cleaning out the garage.

My Acknowledgments are Way Behind

In the last few weeks there have been a lot of lost loved ones of friends of our. One family unexpectedly lost their beloved son. Another good friend lost her darling husband whom we adored. Another friend lost her father, who we knew and loved and we missed the visitation. As well as an additional friend who lost her father. A close friend unexpectedly lost her mother. Then our sweet friends lost their Labrador Retriever who was a big member of their family and the community with a loyal Instagram following.

It feels like these losses are coming closer together than usual. I am behind on appropriately expressing my condolences and checking in on friends. I am hoping that everyone else can keep your loved ones safe and sound. I need to catch up on chicken making and letter writing and if another friend has a loss I may never catch up.

On a positive note, our friends whose child was diagnosed with cancer this summer has officially beat it’s butt and is cancer free now. So there is a need for a serious celebration and recognition of seven really hard months being behind them. Can I get a parade started?

For now, I feel like I am an inadequate friend. Please know if you are having one of life’s major events I am acknowledging it in my mind and will certainly let you know how much I love you and are thinking about you very soon.

Living For the Weekend

For the last few years I have been like Lady Grantham, “Weekend, what’s a weekend?” Mondays and Saturdays were the same. With no child at home going to school and a very self sufficient husband, everyday was all about fun for me. Well, maybe during the pandemic it wasn’t all about fun, but those days were really all alike.

Now that I am teaching seven or eight 3 hour classes a week I am exhausted by the time Friday rolls around. It’s like being twenty-eight years old when I used to come home from a long work week on Fridays and go to bed at nine o’clock.

I am not complaining. I love all my students. In fact it is so sad when one class ends and I say good bye to them. Tonight’s class was a wild one. This was their final and when they walked me to my car, carrying all my equipment, they gave me hugs and told me they would see me again soon.

Teaching is the most rewarding thing I do. I love figuring out all the different ways people learn and try to tell students the same information in many different ways until I see that spark of understanding. But it is exhausting by the end of the week. Thankfully I only teach one class on Fridays. Come the evening I will be ready for bed early, but I probably won’t beat Russ there because no matter how hard I work he will always work three times more than I do and not complain. Just living for the weekend.

NO Fly List, Yes Please

Recently the president of Delta asked to government to help create a National “No Fly List,” for unruly passengers and I am all for it. Yes, Delta can create its own list of passengers who they will no longer allow to fly on their planes, but there is nothing stopping that bad acting person from turning around and flying on a different airline.

I read that there were 6,500 people in the last year who were unruly and 4,200 of them were fighting about having to put the mask on. If mask mandates get lifted for people flying that would still mean that there could be 2,300 unruly people who need to be banned. Flight attendants have taken the brunt of abuse and need to not have to be subjected to proven problem flyers.

From my life of flying I can say that as time goes on passengers get less and less courteous and more and more rude. I am not sure that the tide is ever going to turn on this situation. The best we can do is not allow people to be double or triple offenders. Once you have punched a flight attendant or ignored requests to take your seat and buckle up, but instead are heading to the cockpit, your time on planes has come to an end.

Airlines have to keep all the crew and passengers’ lives safe and have a fairly good track record doing it. The rules about flying are fairly clear. You don’t get to decide you don’t want to wear a seat belt because if the plane hit turbulence you could fly up in the air and come down on top of someone else. I have been a plane that dropped 10,000 feet shortly after takeoff and it’s not pretty.

Someone made the argument that many of the unruly flyers are drunk. If you are so afraid of flying that you have to drink five scotches in the airport before you get on the plane, then you need to drive. I have been on too many flights coming home from some island and the passengers were making the most of their all-inclusive resort before getting to the airport. There is nothing worse than flying with a bunch of drunks who are mad they have to go home. Maybe we need a rule that you need to not be drunk to even get on the plane. Then we probably don’t need the NO Fly List.

I wouldn’t mind going back to the days when people dressed up to get on the plane and acted like ladies and gentlemen. I really don’t love boarding behind the girl who is making sure the whole plane gets a good look at her new tramp stamp, with her white girl braids and sun burned scalp screaming at her boyfriend. Then they fight with each other as if she caught him with her best friend in their trailer when she got home from work. Please try and act like you have all your important teeth when you fly, even if you don’t.

As for people flying who should be in an institution, if only Ronald Reagan hadn’t closed them all, if you are on all the right meds flying can be safe for you. Please don’t chose the day you are flying to not take your meds. If you forgo them and then do something bad on the plane, it is not excuse that you forgot to take them.

Maybe we need signs on the way to the airport, “Took your meds?” “If you are too drunk to drive you are too drunk to Fly, even if you are just a passenger.”

The American public who has proven that they don’t care enough about your fellow citizens to wear a mask then they probably don’t care about the safety of fellow flyers. So it’s time to regulate the selfish off the planes.

A Little Cold

Outside of having Covid over Christmas the last time I was sick was almost exactly two years ago when I went to visit Carter in Boston. She had a stomach virus before I got there and I must have picked it up and it was horrible and violent. Since then, nary a sniffle. That is until now.

I have a little cold. It’s not terrible. I’m not stopped up, just sneezing and runny nose. No sore throat, no sinus, but still a cold. Years of staying home alone and wearing masks when out have kept me from getting a cold. I guess the party’s over. I have been seeing mor people now that I have antibodies from having Covid and so I am paying the price. It is worth it. I would rather have a cold one or twice a year than only stay home alone for the rest of my life.

Into every life a little pain must come. A cold is hardly a pain. It is just the price for living. And I will tell you, I will take a cold over a violent stomach virus any day.

Acts of Love

When you have been married to Russ Lange for 30 years this May, you don’t need Valentine’s Day to prove anything. To us Valentine’s Day is the amateur hour. Only people who are newly dating want to go out to an over-crowded, over-priced, over-worked restaurant on the same night as everyone else. Roses that have been in a holding refer-truck for weeks have nothing on a peony planted in the garden, coming up year after year. And there are no such thing as special meals made at home, as all our meals are special.

Today, on my way out to door to pick up Russ’ shirts from the laundry he looked at me and said, don’t stop and get me a card, so I didn’t. He knows I show my love to him in acts of service and he does the same, except that he also gets cards.

I got home with the cleaning and found my card on the top step. I opened it to discover conversation hearts with the sayings that mean the most to me, “I did the dishes,” which he does every night, no matter how much work he has or how little I have.

We are no less romantic or love each other any less because we are not participating in the Valentine’s ritual. We love each other that much everyday, but I must admit he is better at it than I am, since he brings me tea in bed every morning.

We hope that all people can find love of all different kinds. It can be with your pet, or your friend or your lover, but don’t wait for a special day to show them you love them. I would take someone who buys the right toilet paper all the time over someone who buys flowers once a year.

Go Bengals

I never cared much about football. Given how crazy both my parents are for the game it is amazing that I don’t care. Perhaps it has to do with going to a college where Football was not a big thing. I think my freshman year Dickinson did VERY poorly in scoring, despite a team full of really nice guys who went on to be doctors and judges and things so much more important then football players.

So now that the super bowl is upon us, literally on right now, I am cheering for the Bengals because the only professional player ever knew played for them. Growing up in Wilton, CT the Perry family of four boys were close family friends. Scott, the eldest was the best athlete. He played football at the Kent school, where all the boys went. Prep football is not the normal breeding ground for pros. Scott went on to Williams and was a walk on there. He was a great all around athlete who I think may still hold the NESCAC record for the long jump. He was drafted by the Bengals and played pro football for five or six years. I have a feeling he was just too smart to keep playing football.

I can remember watching him play on TV with his next brother down, Mike, who went to Dickinson with me. The third brother, Brian was the brother I knew the best, as we were friends in the same class in school and were all in the same group who hung together on vacations since we went to boarding school.

I am blanking on the youngest brother’s name, who was in the same class as my sister Janet. I remember him as being the sweetest one, but that was a big contest because all the Perry boys were all very nice. They had the nicest parents around. I remember their mother Pat as always having the most calming voice, which I found astounding for a mother of four boys.

So even though Scott Perry hasn’t played for the Bengals in five decades that fact that he ever did gives me reason to cheer for them tonight.

NO, Not Limes!

As if inflation, transport problems and lack of workers are not bad enough, apparently Mexican Cartels have branched out from drugs to limes now. Mexico is where many limes are grown is also home to so many organized crime groups, who realized they could terrorize lime growers and demand graft from them and is much less risky than moving drugs. Consequently, limes are in short supply right now and thus the prices have gone way up.

I have never been in the market for heroin or whatever drugs the Mexicans control, but limes are a staple at our house. I can grown lots of different fruits and vegetables to avoid the cartel, but not limes. I guess I could get an indoor lime tree, but I feel like it is a multi years commitment before I got enough limes to satisfy my needs. They also are going after the avocado growers too, but at least we have California avocados. I can live without avocados, but limes are imperative for my all-day iced tea. Damn those Mexican criminals.

Mah Jongg Therapy

Today at class seven of the week my cute student brought Mah Jongg cups and cocktail napkins for the whole class, including one for me, the teacher. It was very sweet of her to include me. This class is made up of a group of twelve good friends so they are so nice to each other. Usually groups that come pre-formed don’t think of me as part of there pack, as I am the hired help. But sweet Rachael included me.

Last week a blog reader friend, Mary, responded to a Mah Jongg blog that she had been having headaches and memory issues for a very long time since having Covid, pre-vaccine, early in the pandemic. She told me that she finally was seen at a post Covid clinic and they prescribed her playing Mah Jongg to help get her brain function back to normal. Unfortunately she is in Boston so she can’t take lesson with me, but she did find a class there.

All that being said, I was wondering if now I could bill insurance to teach people Mah Jongg? Maybe I could get some medical title, not Doctor, since I don’t want to go back to school for eight years, but perhaps therapist?

I do tell my students that I physiologically analyze them by the way they organize their tiles, but I offer not remedies for issues so it is not therapeutic. I really just do it to understand how they think so I can teach them in a way that they can learn best.

As for my class today, who brought me a present, they are all getting A’s. Who says you can’t sweet talk the teacher.

Two Hair Cuts In One Day

This month is crazy. I am teaching seven classes a week that are three hours a class. It doesn’t leave much time for any other activities. Thankfully I have kept one whole day in the week free. Today I was not teaching until three, doing back to back classes ending at nine. I have to leave home at 1:45 to get there and set up and get home around 9:45.

With the morning free I had booked two haircuts today. One for Shay and one for me. Shay was in much more need than I was as she as switching groomers again! I wish that my hairdresser Suzanne did dogs because then I know it would be good.

My hair cut takes about twenty minutes including the wash and blow out. Shay’s takes all day. Russ thankfully had ten minutes between clients to go pick her up. I got home and was met by the totally buzzed puppy with the world’s skinniest legs. I knew she had mats and was going to have to be clipped like she was in basic training. I just wish that when I came out of a hair cut my legs looked half as thin as Shay’s.

She is as exhausted from her day of beauty as I am from my day of teaching. So it’s right to bed for the two of us. The only difference is I have to be up and out to go back and teach by 7:45 in the morning and she can sleep in tomorrow.

Slur Overkill

I got a call recently from a woman older than I am who was interested in taking one of my classes. She said that where she lives we a “bunch of Nazis” who won’t let her into their group until she has taken a class. I couldn’t immediately find her a space in any of my classes, but told her I would get back to her.

A while after the call I thought about what she said. Calling a group you want to join “a bunch of Nazis” made me wonder why you want to join them in the first place. Still bothered I realized that I no longer call anyone other than actual Hitler contemporaries Nazis or Neo-Nazis, who self identify as scum bags.

I am not known for political correctness, but I do feel like there is hardly any group that warrants the comparison with Nazis. With all the Holocaust deniers I don’t want to water down what being a real Nazi was in history. Just because someone is not letting you join a group does not in anyway compare them to Nazis.

I know in my past I have called someone I just disliked a Nazi and now I regret the imprecise slur. I am certain whomever I identified that way was not out to cleanse the earth of anyone they did not deem worthy so the hyperbole was so overkill that using it somehow cheapens what real Nazis did.

I am not saying anything bad about the stranger who called me and used the term. It was just the first time it hit me that it felt insensitive to what real Nazis have done and neo-Nazis are tying to do now. As the world gets mor polarized I am becoming much more concerned about fascism so I am going to try and not call anyone who is actually not one a Nazi.

It’s a Dog House

My dear friend Lane, who is also the worlds best decorator, came over today and brought me about fifty fabrics to look at for recovering my living room furniture and new window treatments in the dining room. Shay was most excited to see Lane as she is one of the all time great dog lovers.

After some good snuggles Shay set herself up on the sofa as Lane and I played with fabric memos. As much as I would love to have some white furniture to pop in my green living room, Lane, with four dogs and two white sofas knew better. It’s not just dogs that are bad for white sofas, but also husbands.

We decided on some beautiful choices because they were in stock and Lane found ways to make things work, even if the required yardage was not available. Oh, the joys of a real professional decorator and not just someone who thinks they have good taste and resale license. Lane understands about repeats in fabric patterns and welting and all the technical parts of upholstery. Between the two of us working together for 25 years, Lane’s extensive knowledge and my decisive nature, fabric knowledge and color training we can redo a room in record time. Well, we can pick everything out fast, getting craftsman to do the work is another story, but Lane has that covered too.

After Lane left, I came back to the living room and found Shay, atop a needlepoint pillow, leaning against another pillow. Thank god Lane knows this is a dog house and brought fabrics that are dog friendly. It’s all well and good to redo the furniture, but we all are going to sit on it and use it so it’s got to hold up for the next 25 years like the last ones did.

Sock Advice

In a fight against consumerism and what that does to the planet, in 2019 I took a vow not to buy anything new for myself unless it was a consumable. So no new clothes, or shoes, but yes to toothpaste and mascara. It was a breeze. I didn’t miss buying anything. I had plenty of everything I could ever need. Not buying “stuff” made me very happy.

2020 began and I was I free to buy what I wanted, but other than some underwear, I didn’t buy anything. Then COVID lockdown hit and I really didn’t need ANYTHING. I had plenty of workout clothes not to work out in, but to wear doing puzzles, needlepointing and making quilts.

Of course the pandemic has lasted way longer than any us ever thought and I have not gone in a clothing store in three years now. You might look at me and say, “Yeah, I can tell.” But, for the most part I don’t really care.

Some things I need I can order online, but there is one thing I wear that I have always gone to the store to buy, short black socks. I am very particular about my socks. I like them to be very soft, but at the same time stay up easily. I usually like to buy six or nine of the same kind at the same time so when I wash them they all match each other. Black socks can fade so I don’t like to match an old sock with a new sock.

I don’t want any socks that look like this

Now here’s my dilemma… I can’t tell online if socks fit my criteria and as of right now I can’t think of stores that are still in business that sell the kind of socks I like. I don’t want to order a bunch of random pairs. I hate sending packages back, especially if it’s just a pair of sock. So I am soliciting advice on sock brands you like and why.

I am a little late in the season to even care about this. In a month I will probably stop wearing black socks and will move to no or only white tennis socks, which I have a great source for. Certainly I can make it through winter with my current stash, but I am noticing some places where a big toe might be wanting to break through. I really don’t want to darn old socks, I’m not that frugal. I’m just particular.

Marriage Management Points

Russ showed me Kim and Penn Holderness’ latest song about what Mom wants most for Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t ever watched one of their videos they are good for a giggle.

Here is the link to this song.

Russ showed it to me because it puts to music our whole marriage. I don’t want expensive gifts, I’d rather have him do the laundry. In our family gifts or acts of service get you positive marriage management points. There are also negative marriage management points, from forgetting an Anniversary (not as if that has ever happened) to putting a wet glass on a wood table without a coaster, (hasn’t happened in years.)

Here is the thing about marriage management points. Positive things, that get you good points, have a shelf life, the bigger the act the longer the life. Negative points are like uranium, they never expire. So a spouse has to work extra hard to over come negative things, maybe a lifetime.

Thankfully Russ learned early on about the point system and has avoided the negative territory. I have remained above water thanks to cooking. But watching the Holderness song I see the point system is alive and well at their house.

Granola for Russ

Being a child of the sixties Granola was ubiquitous in our house. Never was it a homemade treat, but the cereal brand, 100% Natural was a favorite of my mother. I am certain there were no calorie count labels on the box, because if there was she would have stopped purchasing right away. My mother loved anything with nuts. We used to joke that she could eat a fruit cake clean of the nuts leaving it fully intact looking more like a squared log of Swiss cheese.

This week Russ saw an Alton Brown You Tube where he was making a slightly healthier granola. The healthier part is that it did not include butter, but that is where healthy stopped. Since Russ lives on kale and has given up meat, I thought making this granola was something he deserved, especially after a few days of soft food due to oral surgery.

It is easy to make, but does take some time as you must cook it very low for two hours, stirring every fifteen minutes. I would say this is worth it.

This is Alton’s recipe as I adjusted it

Preheat the oven to 250°

3 c. Rolled oats

1 c. Slivered almonds

1 1/4 c. Pecans roughly chopped

6 T. Brown sugar

6 T. Pumpkin seeds

1 c. Unsweetened coconuts

3 T. Flax seeds

1/2 T. Salt

Mix these all together in bowl.

In a heat proof measuring cup.

2 T. Coconut oil. Put in cup and microwave it just until it melts


2 T. Grapeseed oil

1/3. Cup maple syrup

Pour the liquid into the dry and mix well.

Spread the granola on a half sheet pan and place in oven. Every 15 minutes stir it well and cook for a total of 2 hours. Let cool.


3/4 of a cup of both dried cranberries and dried blueberries.

Will keep in a jar for a month if you don’t eat it all before that.

Pence Grows A Pair

As the Republican National Committee is off at a meeting in Salt Lake City approving a resolution that says January 6 was “legitimate political discourse,” an idea so outrageous is is apt to play well on Fox News, Mike Pence was in Florida making a statement of a different kind. Pence, outside Orlando speaking at the Federalist Society said words I never he thought he had in him, “President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.”

While some in the party want to white wash what happened, Pence finally found his voice after four years as the silent sycophant to his boss who told more lies daily than most presidents told in a year. It only took Pence just under 13 months from the day that Trump sent a mob, riled up by his speech, to the Capital to find Mike Pence, with no concern for his safety, as some chanted hang Mike Pence. It is about time that Pence grew a pair and spoke up.

I am no fan of Pence. His policies as Governor of Indiana go against my beliefs, but I do think he sees the difference in honoring the constitution and the danger of burning it down. Pence finally realized that Trump is loyal only to himself. Carrying his water did Pence no good. I don’t think Pence stands a chance of getting the Republican nomination if he runs for President. His years of namby-pamby ways are too much to over come especially with a party who are trying to normalize what happened on January 6, but still good for him for saying anything against his former boss. I never thought he had it in him.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

This was the first day I have had two classes back to back with no break in between. On top of that they started at three in the afternoon and ran until nine at night. Normally I am in my soft clothes at seven, watching Jeopardy, writing my blog and am sound asleep by ten. Having a day where the majority of it happens in the afternoon, evening and NIGHT goes against my natural clock. Thankfully teaching Mah Jongg brings its own energy so I was able to power through.

My first class was an advanced beginner class so I knew all the students. It is so much easier when I know the personalities and the flow of the group. I am amazed that I can create a curriculum for every level of player and still teach them the same things in different ways u til I am certain they understand everything.

My second class arrived and they were all new faces. I had mistakenly thought I was doing two advanced beginners, back to back, when I really was doing a beginner class from 6-9.

Twelve new people, twelve new names, twelve new personalities to figure out. They were a rowdy group and I am certain I was a little harsh when I told that, “I am talking now.” But they also fell in love with the exercises I had them do to learn the card and they quickly were competing with each other to find the right hand before the other tables. My most challenging student blurted put, “Can you be my new best friend?” Addiction is powerful.

The first night of class is the hardest night so next week will be easier and the third class even easier. Eventually I will acclimate to night work and by the time I do it will be spring and Mah Jongg Learning season will give way to people wanting to do outdoor things. I have to make the most of this during the gray and boring months of waining winter. I am not missing anything fun going on at home. It’s nice work so I’ll take it.

The Stupidest Holiday

How the hell did groundhog day ever get so big? I’ve lived in the south and I’ve lived in the north and winter was never over on February 2 any place. It might be a different story in March, but February??? No way, winter is just getting a hold on you. You might have a warm day or even week, but a blizzard can quickly follow those false springs. So the whole premise of even saying if winter is over or you will have six more weeks is just ridiculous.

Now let’s get to the groundhog part. I have never met a groundhog I thought was useful for anything. As a child I remember a groundhog decimating my father’s vegetable garden. He was so mad that he went out and shot it with a shot gun. Killing it upset him so much that he cried and was then mad that the groundhog made him kill him. This is the logic that comes with having a gun at the ready. It was a terrible day at our house.

My first question is do animal’s recognize their shadow’s? That seems like a very advanced brain concept. As far as I can tell from my experience with that groundhog my father shot is they aren’t too bright. That groundhog not only did not recognize his shadow, he didn’t recognize my father standing there with a shot gun. I think their eyesight is poor at best so why does anyone take a ground hog’s word whether he sees his shadow? In actuality it’s those men who hold the poor rodent up who say that the groundhog produced a shadow, but they don’t know what the furry thing saw or didn’t see.

Let’s put us all out of our misery of holding out hope that winter might be over. It isn’t, accept it. Stop torturing rodents by letting men in top hats hold them up over their heads. The only fun that could come out of it is if the groundhog would poop on the guy holding him.

This is not a day that needs any attention. We have real things to concentrate on and they never involve rodents of any kind.

Tough as Nails

For years the dentist has been telling Russ to get his wisdom teeth out. There is nothing anyone does not want to do more than have their wisdom teeth out. So Russ just kept not doing it. Russ was not like me. When I was still in high school the second my dentist said I needed my wisdom teeth out I jumped right on it while I was still on my parents insurance and they paid the co-pay.

After years of avoiding this surgery Russ finally broke an important tooth which required surgery in quick time. While he was going in for that they said they could take out his two remaining wisdom teeth at the same time. So he finally agreed since he was going to have to miss a day of work he would kill two birds with one stone.

I was required as driver, first to the oral surgeon and then right from there to the dentist. As the one not under anesthesia I was given the instructions at the oral surgeon for the follow up care and pain management. Russ had a head wrap ice pack and alternating pain medication. No hot foods, no straws, only soft food.

After all the medical and dental procedures were complete I brought him home to recover. He was well enough by four-thirty for me to leave him to go teach Mah Jongg.

I got home tonight and he was up, not swollen at all, no ice pack, had eaten dinner and done two loads of laundry and was working. So much for recovery. He still has to heal and then get a permanent replacement tooth made, but as far as this being a bad day he has done quite well. I am a little suspicious about how that anesthesia affected him, laundry is not something he ever does. I’m not complaining about his, but if I knew having his wisdom teeth it was going to have this kind of effect on him I would have insisted it happened earlier, just for the sake of his teeth.